In part 02 of the interview with Deanna & Ed Templeton we originally published in the first issue of Vegan Good Life early 2015, we talked about the couple’s artistry and their longterm relationship. And asked how their outsider position as drug free, monogamous vegans influences their work.
Interview: Eric Mirbach
You’re both vegans, you’ve been married young and nourish a long, monogamic relationship, you abstain from consuming drugs. This pretty much makes you “weirdos” from a mainstream perspective and I mean that as a compliment. It seems like everything about you is fundamentally different from the mainstream approach to life – why is that?
Ed: It’s funny how just being vegan and not doing drugs or smoking can make you the weird one, maybe that’s just in skateboarding. I’m amazed being vegan isn’t even more adopted by people than it is. People worry about the environment and the rainforest, animal cruelty, etc – being vegan helps all of that immensely. It’s such a helpful way of living for your body and health and also for the planet that it surprises me that there is not a majority of vegans. I feel like when we started in the early 90’s we felt a lot more out of the mainstream, it was a protest and you felt the sacrifice. We gave up on some of life’s pleasures based on our morals and ethics. Those days there was no vegan ice cream, the soy milk was terrible, and the food choices were limited. Today the protest goes on – as a vegan I have pulled my dollars away from any product that uses animals, hopefully sending a message to businesses that there is a market for cruelty free products, but these days the ‘giving up on life’s pleasures’ part is gone. Everything can be made vegan now. There are plenty of ice creams, deserts, and any type of food you can imagine. Every city has vegan restaurants and stores, and I can use my phone to find and get directions to these places.
“It’s funny how not doing drugs can make you the weird one.”
Deanna: Drugs suck. I tried a few in my teens and they either made me sick or made my face breakout. So I saw no point. Being vegan just makes sense. We were vegetarian first for 2 years and then with some information from a friend of ours who was vegan, it just seemed like the next logical step. When I started out as a vegetarian I was doing it for the animals, so if I really cared about animals why let the dairy and egg producing animals suffer? And then add to that, the health benefits of being vegan just made sense too.
Ed, you just put out a new book – can you give us the details?
The book is called Wayward Cognitions and is published by Um Yeah Arts. It’s a photography book with images pulled from my 20 year archive. I wanted to weave a story using images that didn’t fit into any of my many photo series that have been published or that I’m still working on. So the images are ‘stray thoughts’ and that’s where the title comes from. It should be hitting stores in early December!
Deanna, please tell us what you’ve been working on recently – are you still into the swimming pool series? How did it come about?
The Swimming Pool series came about one day when Ed decided to go for an afternoon swim sans swimming trunks so I thought I would shoot a few photos. When I got the proof sheets back with the images of him I was pretty happy and then started to think I might have something here. So then I just enlisted our friends and friends of friends who were not shy. It was a great experience, I’m really thankful for the trust everyone gave me. I am done shooting the Swimming Pool series and am now looking for a publisher. Besides that I’m working a new zine about our American Flag that will be published by the Deadbeat Club. And next fall I have a photo show at Little Big Man Gallery in Los Angeles about my experiences growing up as a female. That show will be a precursor to a much bigger project/book that I’m working on with that work.
Did you go vegan together? Did you guys have a certain “moment of clarity”?
Ed: Yeah, we went on a month long skate tour with Mike Vallely and his wife who were vegan already (they are not anymore) and decided to try and go vegan for the whole trip. When we came back we both had our moments of clarity, for me I ate some ‘Cheetos’ (a bright orange cheesy junk food) and felt immediately stupid. Why did I do that? Was it really worth it? I think at that moment I realized that I was going to stay vegan from then on.
“Being vegan has been a positive experience on all levels.”
Deanna: After the trip I ate a cinnamon roll and like Ed felt weird about it. I decided to stay vegan too. Doing it with Ed has made it a lot easier.
You keep a travel log and describe every vegan restaurant you visit on your many travels. Can you name your personal top three restaurants worldwide?
Ed: Our favorite place in Europe is in Gent, Belgium. A place called Avalon that’s only open for lunch. We especially love their Tempeh Rueben sandwich. The best vegan restaurant in Europe is Kopps in Berlin, they have really taken vegan food to a new level. Glasgow, Scotland has a lot of great places. The best is called Mono, and is connected to a book/zine shop and a record shop. That place is so cool. That’s 3 in Europe. In the USA the best place on the west coast is Crossroads restaurant in Los Angeles. Sorta fancy, but worth the price. The 2nd best is Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco.
Deanna: Don’t forget Gracias Madre! It’s an all vegan Mexican restaurant in LA that doesn’t use any fake meats. And Cafe Gratitude in LA is one of my faves too.
Ed: NYC has a lot of course, our favorite is Blossom. There’s a place in Chicago called Chicago Diner that has great diner food and amazing deserts, all vegan. Portland, Oregon has plenty too! If you are traveling anywhere go to HappyCow.net and see what vegan/vegetarian restaurants are in whatever city you are going to. They have a Happy Cow app too!
Which impact, if any, has veganism on your daily life?
Being vegan has been a positive experience on all levels. That’s why I have no plans on ever changing. Being vegan makes you think about every food choice you make, I read ingredients and make sure what I’m eating isn’t filled with chemicals or dead animal parts. I search out new places to eat, it takes me to neighborhoods I would never see otherwise when we are traveling and those trips end up bringing out more adventures. I also have the satisfaction that simply through the way I eat I’m helping the environment and not contributing to animal suffering. I have also learned a lot by being challenged by the Meat and Dairy industry and the science they pay for to support their business. People get brainwashed by the stuff they are fed over the mainstream news, and it has taught me how to be very skeptical and do my own independent research on things.
What are your plans for the near future? Do you plan to travel, etc etc – what are you looking forward to?
Ed: For me I’m painting right now because I have an exhibition planned in April 2015 at Roberts and Tilton in Los Angeles. It will be an all painting show, no photos this time. And we are starting a new Toy Machine skate video too!
Deanna: Ed and I will be showing a retrospective of our zines and books at the LA Art Book Fair this January and we are making a special collaborative edition that will be presented on the occasion.
I want to thank you both for your time.
this interview was originally printed in Vegan Good Life issue #01, February 2015, which came out in German only.